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need a new system...Line array or Bose L1s?


I am seeking advise from sound engineers. I am an IT guy at a small college and we host several large events. We are completely outfitting our entire production with new equipment. We've already swapped out our old nasty arena lights with LED dimmable lights, already installed a screen and shoot a live HD camera feed 300' away with the help of our Barco and Tricaster video system. So now its time for Audio... I currently use 6 JBL Mp15s and we often run into trouble of it not being loud enough. This room is very large and tall, I do not have exact dimensions but a picture is attached. I already have Yamaha O1v96 sync up to my Macbook air and iPad. But, now I need the proper speakers. My knowledge tells me to go with a small Line array system flown above the stage. BUT...I would love to use L1's if possible. This system is typically used for events such as graduation, Marine Ball, and typical speaking events. Would a cluster of L1's suit my needs or small cluster of line arrays flown with portable lifts on each side of the stage? I know this is kind of out there but any feedback of using this sort of system in a large arena for speaking events would be much appreciated. Were trying to stay away from a permanent install, as the stage moves around the room and we may need the system else where. After looking at the picture, let me know of the ideal system you would choose. Thanks for the help!
December 14, 2011 @08:26pm

You need to call a reputable company that designs and installs large-venue sound systems now. Even though you indicate that this is a semi-portable system, this is a big enough room that there are a number of variables at play more than just throwing some speakers on sticks or in a stack in the front. I do this as a major part of my living and have in some context for more than a decade as the owner of an AVL systems design and integration company. Please don't take too much offense at this, but the question you just asked is sort of the equivalent of "I need to haul 10 tons of gravel, do I need a Mazda Miata or a 40-foot dump truck?" One is definitely not the answer, and the other could be, but not necessarily, and there are a LOT of viable possibilities in between. A workable system is not a bunch of speakers you throw together in a "cluster" and hope for the best.
Please, please PLEASE seek a competent professional's advice before you spend your institution's dollars. Not the internet. And be prepared to pay for that advice as you would any other professional trade. I really am not trying to be harsh, but honest.
December 15, 2011 @12:05am

Thanks for the input. Trust me, I know a little bit about sound and I realize there are countless variables that will affect the overall output. I was more so just trying to get a general idea of what to expect from an AV installer. I also was wondering if the Bose towers are even possible. I've never seen them in a large veue myself, but I have heard a couple touring acts carrys around 30-40 sticks (which you must admit is pretty cool). I am not using the information and opinions I gather here, to go on a shopping spree of sound gear and have to do it all myself. I'd much rather pay someone else! :] This is just for personal curiosity until our guys come at the begining of the year to give us a quote. Thanks for your input
December 15, 2011 @12:42am
Dave Burris

Personally, I would not even consider the Bose for this situation. That room is essentially a gymnasium acoustically. You're likely going to want a distributed system with appropriate EQ and delays for satisfactory results. A point source is going to be too loud up close and potentially inarticulate and not loud enough in the far field.
Your best choice will probably be some sort of flown system that increases the chance of equidistance from the bulk of the crowd. Mounting such system is a huge liability and best left to professional riggers.
I would echo that you should probably consult someone accustomed to similar environments.
December 15, 2011 @03:31am

I love the Bose L1 for its simple and elegant design, but it would be totally inadequate for this room. What you need is a professionally designed and installed permanent system, not a portable rig designed for singer-songwriters playing coffee shop gigs.
If you already have a Sweetwater sales engineer, please contact them. If not, please contact me. We have system designers and contractors who work closely with us and we do these types of systems all the time.
December 15, 2011 @02:45pm

I've used the L1M2 in a number of different rooms. It's not a bad performer, but given what it costs, I cannot recommend it.
December 16, 2011 @02:35am

The OP mentioned that this venue is used pretty much solely for speaking events. The room also looks like a gym style environment, which will create a lot of noise bounce. Like was mentioned earlier, any "broadcast" style setup that has a centralized speaker system, even if it is a line array, will be "throwing" the sound over peoples heads to reach the further points of the room. In an untreated environment, this can be total havoc if you are shooting for clarity in what is being heard, which I am guessing you are.
A plausible solution might be to insert speakers in the ceiling, conference room style, pointing down toward the audience. This way, the maximum throw for any speaker will only be the distance from the ceiling to the listener, and not the possible 80 or 100 feet or so from the front of the room to the back of the room. Lower volumes mean less tendency for unwanted frequencies to bounce around and get out of hand.
This is all based on this being a speaking venue. If it were a concert venue, it would obviously be a different story.
January 10, 2012 @12:08am

The room looks like a candidate for the folks at Danley Sound Labs to take care of.
February 5, 2012 @05:02am

This is one of the hardest style situtations you can have. You need to get bids from serveral top companies in your 1/3 of the nation who have made simular arenas. You need to go with a installed intergated disturbution system. You need systen that can run sound to side seats during games as well as then set up like your picture. It will be costly but if done well it will serve the school for years. If you try to do a self install or even well menaing locals that have never done this type of system before you will waste time and money redoing it until you do it right.
I would call EV or EAW or some other top companies get them to help get you the right thing going the first time. They will know folks in your reigon that have done very simular rooms. I would get someone as high up in school admin as possiable to make a call and they will come running.
Anyhting you rig on your own will make you look bad and waste money.
February 6, 2012 @11:17pm

It's not sound hell, it's a gym. Gyms are not the easiest environments in the world, but they're predictable and relatively uniform. Most bad gym sound is a result of too little rig for the gig, or the wrong products in the wrong places, put in by folks who are in over their heads. Any reasonably competent integrator with experience in similar spaces and the right tools for the job will do fine.
The likely scenarios are some combination of highly directive main arrays covering the floor and fill speakers covering the side/rear bleacher areas, with a competent DSP mainframe with a couple presets and the requisite delay settings for "game" and for "assembly" use.
sdevlin, I'm not sure what "noise bounce" is, but you really ought to plug some stuff into EASE and see what a mess a typical non-delayed distributed system is when installed in a large, reverberant environment. Having a bunch of little speakers throwing sound all over the place with countless attendant couplings and cancellations in the reverberant field due to the time domain incoherence makes speech intelligibility go out the window.
Tim mentioned Danley Sound Labs. They've got some great products for this application.
February 6, 2012 @11:35pm

Most bad gym sound is a result of too little rig for the gig, or the wrong products in the wrong places, put in by folks who are in over their heads...
...The likely scenarios are some combination of highly directive main arrays covering the floor and fill speakers covering the side/rear bleacher areas, with a competent DSP mainframe with a couple presets and the requisite delay settings for "game" and for "assembly" use...

I'd place budgetary restrictions at the top of the list of causes for bad gym sound. Most gym sound systems were installed at the request of cash-strapped schools that do not have the budget to allow for the types of DSP-controlled solutions that can tame difficult rooms. Most decisions about gym sound systems are made by school administrators who do not place sound quality or intelligibility in the same place on the priority list as most readers of this forum.
February 6, 2012 @11:53pm

All I meant by sound hell is very few adminstration folks will spead the money to do it right and some one is always there to sell them a system that will do all the wrong things in such a room. Then every one who tries to do a show lives with the fallout. I know many pro audio folks can design and set up a great solution from any number of top line companies but when the bids come in there are always folks who will do the job for much less and create a mess.
February 7, 2012 @10:17pm

I use the L1 System II all the time and can handle up to a 500 seat room...depending of course on the layout. Nothing that I have heard by other performers...even comes close to the L1's wide angle projection and clarity...But..I would never attempt to use it or any portion thereof, in your large gym style room. Your room does require a professional designer and a delay system for sure! These rooms, like hockey rinks, are very difficult to control but can be done with professional analysis, some baffling and then the right components...whether it be Danley, JBL, EV or otherwise. Good luck!
May 18, 2012 @12:59pm